Advanced countries in all parts of the world are concerned with the geographical unevenness of their development. Canada's preoccupation is with the Atlantic provinces, and for years government departments and agencies have tried to improve the region's economy. However, the evidence suggests that the economic gap between the Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada has remained remarkably constant.
This persistent gap has no shortage of explanations: lack of resources, the cost of transportation, insufficient markets, and a poor supply of skilled labour are problems often mentioned. This study investigates how far these and other factors account for slow industrial development.
The author compares two regions of Canada: Quebec and Ontario, which together are considered the industrial leader; and Nova Scotia, the industrial laggard. He compares the costs of inputs for an average manufacturing firm in Nova Scotia from 1946 to 1962 with what those costs would have been had the firm been located in the Quebec-Ontario region. The analysis includes relative wage rates, labour productivity, the costs of materials, energy, and fuel, rates of interest and investment, transportation charges, levels of local taxation, and the supply of business enterprise. Canadian official statistics form the main basis of the comparisons, but where these are inadequate, information derived from three special studies carried out by the author is used.
Dr George then explores the implications of the study's findings for public policy. He examines the relative cost and effectiveness of tax concessions, capital grants, industrial estates, transportation subsidies, and other remedial measures often advocated.
Although the book uses a case study approach involving just two regions, it is relevant to the general theory of the location of industry, to regional economic policies, and to industrial development. It is essential reading for politicians and public servants who shape regional policies; for industrial promotion managers of municipalities; for businessmen choosing sites of new enterprises, and the consultants who advise them; for academics concerned with the theoretical aspects of the location of industry; and for anyone interested in industrial development.